Today I was talking with a client on the phone. She was feeling frantic and talking very fast. She said, “I can’t take living with all this stuff. I don’t know why I can’t get rid of any of it. I mean, I sit there in my office and I can’t get anything done. I don’t do anything. I get so angry at myself. I should be able to do something about this -“
I said, “That’s not helping you. When you tell yourself that you should be doing something, it doesn’t help. It’s harsh and hard on you. You just end up feeling worse.”
She said, “I know, I get so down on myself when I tell myself I should be taking care of this, and it just makes me so depressed.”
I told her that’s the clutter. Being hard on herself hurts her and doesn’t make a difference. It’s like punching yourself in the heart. It takes a big toll.
She was quiet. She said, “So what do I do?”
I told her to notice when she’s hard on yourself. She can’t stop it because it’s a very strong habit. But to notice when it happens. “Oh, I’m being hard on myself again.” Noticing makes us less reliant to use harshness to inspire ourselves to get things done. I told her she’s not alone. Most of us are trained to motivate ourselves this hard way. It’s using force. It’s a very old way of getting ourselves and others to do things. It’s an old technology that doesn’t actually work. It feels like we’re doing something. But when we stop and take a look, the hard approach uses us up, wears us down, and doesn’t help us to change in a way that’s beneficial.
When we step back from this trance, we get some inner space. A little bit goes a long way. With that extra clarity, we can come up with solutions that suit us. When we begin to take care of ourselves, we begin to thrive again on the inside.
She decided on her own to set a timer and work for just twenty minutes at a time. She felt this would be easier on her. It would keep her from getting overwhelmed.
I think we’re seeing that we are delicate. When we push ourselves too much we begin to break down. We don’t function as well. We’re learning how to be gentle and nurture ourselves while living our lives. We have a meter in us that measures when we’ve gone too far. Noticing when it goes into the red and stopping or slowing down is valuable.
The Kind approach has amazingly positive and physiological benefits. I was just reading in the New York Times that, “A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” When we discover ways to be warmer to ourselves, we become more open and able, and we function better.